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Review Of Beef: Less Joy More Grief



Rating: **

Beef  as a  word to describe aggravated conflict came into popular  desi lexicon very  recently after Priyanka Chopra Jonas  admitted she  had been maltreated  in  Bollywood.

I  felt the same watching ten lengthy, selfimportant titillating-at-top-bland-at-bottom American  episodes  of Beef on Netflix about  Korean-Americans who seem fixated on creating  unnecessary and totally irrelevant  problems which could easily be   avoided.

  The premise  of a  man and a woman  Danny and Amy , played with grating casualness  by  Steven Yeun and  Ali Wong, as they are called, getting into  twisted  battle  after a road-rage incident,  would have made a  watchable  if not  an extraordinary rom-com.

Don’t him Wong, but Yeun is no loverboy actor. He is best suited for roles that require him to eat, sleep,fornicate,repeat.Any  extra  layering in his characters is impractical.

 With  lead actors who are  dull and  pettifogging, the  ten-episode series Beef causes grief. It is  overblown and undernourished. The skeletal plot  scarcely manages to  rise above the mundane. Most of the  time we are left wondering what the fuss is about.And would someone  please plant  two tight slaps on these  two grownups behaving like spoilt little kids  who will  do potty at a party  when they are not given large enough portion of the birthday cake.

The writing is clearly  infantile.It wants us to embrace Amy and Danny’s temper tantrums. But we can’t,as the  writing doesn’t evolve,  or involve  us  as  spectators.  Very often it feels as if scenes are being created to let the two  protagonist create embarrassing scenes.

We get that they are  angry. Hell, I would be too if my lifestyle was so mercurial that I wouldn’t know  if I coming or groaning….Yes, that is   a  sexual reference, pointing towards a  conversation in an early episode that has Amy  accusing her dumbstruck husband of having  “vanilla” sex  with her. Maybe he should try  butterscotch.

Beef is riddled with problems which are  no problem at all. It relies  heavily on  situational swipes at  suburban  conventions  but  fails to give us a valid motive for  the characters’ collective  premature  midlife crisis . Consequently it feels overburdened  with  nothing.

The  twists in the plot and the jibes at the characters’ sense of self importance  eventually begin to wear very thin. We  are  finally left  looking at people  who  add shades of dark to their spick and span lifestyle  out  of boredom.

At some point the battle  between the two road ragers  dissolves into some  kind of a shared relationship, which is  absurd, really.  If  Beef  is trying to say two superficial unhappy people  are likely to be happy together , then its sense of collective misery is  so nebulous, it can’t tell  a  fun battle of the sexes  from  a dreary war of  nullity, gender be  damned.

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